There is no doubt that pregnancy is an exciting time filled with many changes throughout your body. So much time and energy is focused on taking care of your body and growing a healthy baby inside the womb. However, when baby is finally delivered, the focus quickly shifts to that new bundle of joy. While your baby will certainly have demands and needs around the clock, be careful not to ignore the needs of your own body as you enter the postpartum period.
Postpartum refers to the timeframe after a woman delivers her baby or babies. It involves your body’s natural attempt to return back to its non-pregnant state. Considering the vast amount of changes in body shape and hormones that occurred over the past nine months, this postpartum period can be equally difficult to adjust to, especially for moms who are already exhausted and recovering from the birthing experience itself.
While most changes during postpartum are minor, some can be serious or even fatal if ignored. It is critical that you learn to recognize the specific postpartum symptoms that need attention, or medical treatment. We know your days are full of changing diapers, feeding baby and swaddling your new gift of life, but it is important that you take some time to care for your own body along the way.
If you notice the following symptoms during postpartum, call one of our professionals at North Pointe OB/GYN:
Depression – this is more than “baby blues,” which refers to the first 3-14 days after birth of feeling tired, tearful or anxious. If your abnormal or extra low emotional state persists, it could be a warning sign of postpartum depression. This can include other symptoms such as the inability to enjoy your new baby, loss of appetite, feeling withdrawn, poor concentration and sleep problems. Postpartum psychosis is a more serious emergency situation, as it involves feelings of wanting to harm the baby, hallucinations and paranoia.
Heavy Bleeding – while bleeding is normal for the first week or two after delivery, if your heavy bleeding continues, you may be experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). A PPH is continuous bleeding that won’t stop and it demands your doctor’s attention.
Infection – an infection of the womb after delivery is more common in women whose waters broke long before they actually gave birth or if they had a C-section delivery. This can be referred to as endometriosis and is recognized by symptoms beyond normal postpartum tummy pain. Common signs of infection include fever, heavy bleeding, chills or flu-like feeling. Women should also be aware of infection around the wound sites, such as C-section incision, perineal wound from episiotomy.
Anemia – the delivery of a baby can involve a rapid and large amount of blood loss. Postpartum anemia is a common occurrence, but is often ignored because women simply assume their fatigue is from being a new mom. However, if you are truly anemic, your body is under excessive stress as it prevents vital oxygen from being carried throughout your blood. Anemia can also make you more vulnerable postpartum infection and low milk supply if you are breastfeeding. Contact your physician if you suffer from severe fatigue, rapid heartbeat, pale skin, dizziness, leg cramps and/or poor sleep.
These are just a handful of the symptoms you need to watch out for after delivery; others may include urinary complications, blood clots, breast problems and hemorrhoids. While it is very easy to push your own health aside as you focus on caring for your newborn, it is important to realize that your baby needs you to be a healthy mom in the coming weeks and months. At North Pointe OB/GYN, we are here to help you through your entire experience, which includes prenatal care as well as diligent postpartum care. It can be helpful to also educate your partner or spouse about the warning signs of more serious postpartum conditions, as sometimes the symptoms are noticed in others before you recognize them in yourself.